Category Archives: Clutter Clearing

Clear Old Newspaper Clutter!

Newspapers are meant to be temporary residents in your home. If so, then why do I find them

Old newspapers can anchor the energies of tragedy and destruction in your home.

stashed away in closets, boxes, drawers and cabinets in the my clients’ residences?

Checking out the content of those papers gave me several possible answers. Some papers were kept because there were articles associated with my client or family members. However, a majority of the papers I find contain stories of major events in our history that mean something to the client: Obama’s inauguration; Kennedy’s assassination, 911, etc.

It’s interesting to me that people keep and often are very attached to papers that mark tragic events. I think many do it reflexively, as if the event itself was so significant to them that articles about the event must be valuable too. In that regard, the papers tell me what has mattered to my clients and what has touched them deeply.

Keeping old newspapers is not a good idea for a very practical reason. They deteriorate over time. First they get yellow. Then they dry out. Then they fall apart. Most people don’t know how to store newspapers so they won’t disintegrate over time. By the way, when they disintegrate, they make a great fire starter.

More important though are the energies that those papers hold in place. Articles about terrorism, death, and violence hold the energies of terrorism, death and violence. They also hold the energy of powerlessness and of the enormity of conflict that exists in our world. Those energies in turn affect your energy. They pull your energy down, keep you focused and sometimes spinning in thoughts of how bad things are in the world, and hold fear in place.

Some people say, “But, I don’t want to forget 9-11.” I usually counter with, “How likely are you to forget 9-11?” It was such a huge tragedy on so many levels that it’s very unlikely that any of us will ever forget it. I also ask, “When was the last time you perused these papers to wake up your memories of 9-11?” The answer is always, “No.” Or, I ask, “Do you really want to hold onto the energies of death and destruction?” Then I remind them that if they need to access information about 9-11 they can find it on the internet or in the numerous books written about the event.

Newspapers aren’t the best way to hold memories in place because over time papers disintegrate. If their stories are positive, find another way to remember them — internet articles, books. If their stories are negative, remember, their negative energies affect your energy and mood. Ask yourself why you are saving them and how they affect the way you feel. Releasing them is a good investment in letting go of events over which you had no control and of choosing to let go of sadness and tragedy to make space to welcome good into your life.

Transform Refrigerator Clutter Into Art

We’ve all seen it, the front and/or sides of a refrigerator plastered with papers and photos

Can you guess what I love when you look at my refrigerator collage? Dogs, art, family and friends!

hanging on for dear life at all angles in a hectic jumble. I’ll bet your first instinct when you see that messy bulletin board in someone’s kitchen is to look away. Why is that? Because it looks chaotic and radiates negative energy.

“But,” you say, “it’s so practical to have those papers within easy reach for reference or to cue you to do something . . .” I’m sure it could helpful if you could easily see everything hanging there. What seems to happen over time is that so many papers begin to accumulate on the refrigerator surface that it’s hard to see anything. To make things worse, papers are placed there at different angles which creates an off-balance, out of control feeling. Plus, if you look closely, many of those papers are probably out of date and irrelevant, therefore trash. Refrigerators loaded with papers are vertical displays of clutter.

What to do? Transform your refrigerator surfaces into a vertical collage. Create an arrangement you love to look at. Here’s how you can do that:

      • remove everything from the refrigerator surface
      • sort through the papers and photos, choosing items that are still relevant and/or lift your spirits 
      • find other items that warm your heart and make you smile, like photos of special people or places, a colorful calendar, inspirational poems or sayings, interesting or unique magnets
      • intentionally arrange those items on your refrigerator so that you can see everything, each item is at right angles to the edges of the refrigerator, and the overall arrangement is attractive and interesting to look at
      • put all papers in one area or mix them with photos and other items of visual interest which will offset the somewhat negative energy of the papers
      • step back and look at your creation
      • rearrange items if necessary for visibility or to make it more visually attractive

Once you’ve created your refrigerator masterpiece your work is not done! It’s important to maintain its order and visual appeal. Regularly clear off papers that are no longer useful. When you add new items, resist the urge to slap them up there willy nilly at odd angles. Place each item deliberately at right angles to the refrigerator edges, making sure it can be easily seen and that its placement adds to the visual appeal of the entire arrangement.

If you start thinking about your refrigerator surfaces as opportunities for artistic expression instead of convenient bulletin boards, you are more likely to treat them with the respect and care they deserve. The payoff for taking a few extra minutes to arrange their surfaces and maintain them as peaceful collages that hold useful information and warm your heart is that they will enhance your kitchen instead of being eyesores. You and others will be drawn to look at them with interest and curiosity instead of being repelled by their chaos and negative energy.

Clutter & Soul Starvation

I’ve often wondered why clutter has become such a problem for many people. In my work with

The weight of these clothes broke the rod that was holding them.

clients as a hands-on professional organizer I have the opportunity to see just how much stuff people can accumulate. In extreme cases purchased items are never used and closet rods break under the weight of clothing. People feel ashamed about the condition of the spaces in which they live. Yet, many keep accumulating more things. . .

There are many reasons people continue buying things even when their homes are extremely clutter. Some do it because they aren’t aware of what they already have. Others buy more stuff because they can’t find what they need when they need it. Still others have to have the newest, best, latest version of a product, something new and shiny.

I think there is also another reason for the constant accumulation of stuff. People buy things to feel good, unconsciously trying to fill an inner ache, an inner longing for meaning in their lives. Our society promotes materialism. We are constantly bombarded with advertising whose subliminal message is, “Own the newest model of car or iPhone or the new style of clothing, and your life will be wonderful.” We’ve been programmed to believe that having things will make us happy. When it doesn’t work, many people buy more things because they haven’t figured out that things don’t bring long-lasting happiness, contentment, and fulfillment.

I believe that in some cases clutter is an outward manifestation of an inner need for meaning, for connection with our true selves, perhaps parts of ourselves that we don’t even know exist because it has never been safe to reveal them or we were never encouraged to explore our inner world. We live in a society that rewards extroversion, outward action, more highly than inner exploration.

I refer to the inner knowing self as the soul. Our souls are fed when our actions are in alignment with our values, strengths and passions. To discover our values, strengths and passions we must go inside and reflect on what lights us up, what makes us feel alive and motivated, what brings us long-lasting pleasure. We aren’t taught how to do this in schools, churches, communities or even our own homes. We are taught that money is the source of happiness, that it’s important to get an education in subjects that have potential to lead to jobs that pay well. We are taught to seek money, not self-knowing, self-connection, or fulfillment.

Clutter caused by overspending happens when our souls are screaming to be fed. We’ve been taught that fulfillment exists outside of ourselves, so we shop. And, if that doesn’t work, we shop some more. Our houses become congested and sometimes even toxic with the physical remains of our attempts to feed our souls. Then, when clutter problems become severe, we turn on themselves with judgment and negative self-talk. Our families also join in, echoing our own criticism, and self-esteem plummets.

How do we stop the downward spiral described above? Stop shopping. Then, get to know yourself — your values, passions, and what you are longing for. Once you’ve done that, spend your time and resources investing in those things. Self-exploration is often easier to do with the help of a coach or a therapist. A close friend who knows you well and is a good listener may also be able to give you feedback about what they know about what really matters to you.

Know yourself. Feed your soul. Prevent clutter.

Clutter Clearing Success is a Choice!

You never know what will lead to a major clutter clearing achievement! I had not planned to

A simple choice can make a big difference!

work on any particular clutter clearing projects this past weekend. I was merely picking up the house to get ready for the house cleaner. I had a stack of tax files to go to the attic. As I contemplated taking them up there I cringed a bit. The order in my attic had “melted down” over the winter. The space had been so cold that instead of carefully putting things away, I had been doing a hit and run put away process. I’d get to the top of the stairs and put items in any open space I could find. Yes, professional organizers take short cuts that create more clutter too!

Now I was facing a congested mess whose negative energy had my gut churning and my mind racing for excuses to do anything but go up there. Fortunately I recognized my resistance for what it was, a reluctance to face the negative energy I had created in a small attic that at best is hard to move around in. I knew I had two choices: toss the file folders into the mess and shut the door, or reorganize and reclaim the space so I could put the tax files in the bin where they belong.

I knew it would be better to bite the bullet and tackle the mess that day because the attic temperature was perfect. If I waited much longer I’d be avoiding the space because it would be too hot. That fact gave me the extra nudge I needed to decide in favor of reclaiming order in my attic.

Once up in the attic I had to fight with irritation and annoyance about how crowded the space was in order to stay the course. However, the congestion created an urgency to get rid of things. After the first few hesitant decisions it felt so good to relieve the pressure caused by too many things in a small space that I got on a roll and was able to identify half a car load of things to take to Goodwill. I also brought down three boxes and four bags of old files to sort and get rid of. Once those things were out of the attic, reorganizing what was left was actually fun.

When done with the attic I was so energized that I very quickly went through all the paper files, sorting those that need to be shredded from those that could be recycled immediately. Within two hours I had 5 grocery bags of paper for recycling and one stack of paper to be shredded. I’ve never cleared paper so quickly! The energy and optimism that I got from that clearing stayed with me all weekend, and made it possible for me to get many other important tasks done.

It all started with recognizing that I had a choice to make when I encountered internal resistance to fixing the mess I’d created. I could have taken the easy path that would only make my attic clutter challenge worse and more time-consuming when I finally addressed it. Instead I found a compelling reason not to procrastinate reclaiming my attic. I chose the path that was more mentally challenging, but that led to new order, great relief, and increased energy and motivation to continue clearing. I made the right choice and was paid for my efforts with a deep sense of well being, optimism, and positive energy.

The next time you run into a choice point that involves clearing clutter, what path will you choose? The easy road that provides only temporary pleasure and ultimately more challenge? Or, the more difficult path that provides a deeper sense of satisfaction, feelings of competence and success, and that keeps your life moving in a positive direction? It is a choice.

Clutter Clearing Isn’t a Linear Process

I’m sure some of my clients wonder if I know what I’m doing as I begin to help them clear

Clutter clearing for me is an intuitive process, not a linear process.

clutter. I don’t work in a systematic, linear way.

Recently I was working with a woman to clear out a very congested home office area. Her office space had become the repository of both her things and her husband’s things, and was very congested. When we got started I walked right past her desk to a closet at one end of the space. I’m sure she wondered what I was doing. Why wasn’t I starting with the desk area?

My decision to start there was an intuitive decision. It felt like the right place to start. It was an unknown and could become a great storage space for many of the occasional use supplies and other items cluttering her desk area. I struck pay dirt! It held lots of her husband’s equipment and supplies, big items. It was easily cleared and available for my client’s equipment and supplies.

By clearing that closet I quickly created one space that was not congested. Having that space immediately created a feeling of optimism and reduced the feeling of congestion that could have overwhelmed us. Having more space made it much easier to face the clutter in the desk area.

Once we got the closet cleared, we were on a roll. Had I started with her desk cluttered with small items or her bookshelf which also had small items and paper, we could easily have become bogged down and would not have been able to see big results quickly.

Clutter clearing does not have to be done in a systematic, linear way. What is more important is that you find a way to create open space quickly. That success will motivate you to keep going plus it will give you room to work.

How to Clear Clutter Off Your Kitchen Desk

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is often a hub where people gather for nurturance and communing with family members. As mentioned earlier, the kitchen is often where women center their energy. As such, it has become an action area, not only for food preparation, but for women to coordinate a variety of activities as diverse as meal planning, scheduling appointments, coordinating schedules, and making important phone calls.

The kitchen desk probably came into being to accommodate the ever increasing needs of women to have an office of sorts close to where they spend most of their time. The idea was good, creating an area for the CEO of the home to work. I know, you’re already laughing! Who works at their kitchen desk? Who even sits in front of a kitchen desk?

First of all, kitchen desks are usually about the size of a postage stamp–too small to accommodate the needs of a busy family. Also, they are not comfortable places to sit because they are built-in pieces of furniture which force people to sit facing a wall with his or her back to the rest of the room. Sitting with your back to a room puts your nervous system on high alert, ready for any possible threat. In that state it’s difficult to focus. Consequently the chairs of those desks, if they even exist, are rarely used, except as a stacking spot for paper and other objects.

Kitchen desks of even the most organized women quickly become drop spots. Typical desk clutter consists of papers that come in from children returning from school, the mailbox, and meetings, not to mention all kinds of other objects that family members drop on their travels through the kitchen. Most people just roll their eyes when they look at their kitchen desk. Unless properly set up and managed, it is often a source of frustration, as well as an eyesore.

Clearing clutter from a kitchen desk first involves separating papers from other objects.

Work with objects first. Follow these steps:

  1. Sort objects into those that belong in the kitchen and those that do not.
  2. As you’re sorting, feel free to pitch any items you know you don’t need, love, or that aren’t worth the effort of moving to another location.
  3. Put items that belong elsewhere just outside the kitchen door to be dispersed to their homes after you finish working on the desk.
  4. Put away those items that do belong in the kitchen. That may involve going into drawers associated with the desk. Resist the urge to organize the drawers at this time. Your first focus is on restoring order to the desk top.
  5. If objects don’t fit in the drawer, put them aside for the clutter clearing session when you’ll address the drawers.

Once you’ve addressed the objects on the desk top, sort the papers that were on the desk.

  1. Pull out the biggest chunks first: the newsletters, magazines, and stapled-together papers.
  2. Toss or recycle those that are no longer relevant.
  3. Sort the remaining papers into the following categories:

Trash (recycling),

Refer Out (goes to another location or person),

Action (actions to be taken at this location),

Reference (e.g. contacts, schedules),

Filing (at this location),

Pending (e.g. tickets for an event, directions to a social event, etc.),

Reading (optional reading), and

Possibilities (e.g. information about products that you could use or events that you might attend).

The only papers that should remain on the desk are the action papers. The desktop is an action area. It ceases to be an action area when clogged with papers that need filing, reading, or are references and possibilities.

  1. Move reading papers to an area where they are most likely to be read.
  2. If you have room to store files, filing ideally would be done immediately up receipt.
  3. Reference items can be stored in files or binders.
  4. Pending and possibilities can also be filed for easy access.

A good filing solution for the kitchen is an open filing box for files to accommodate all the types of paper you need to access from the kitchen. It could be stored on the counter, but preferably under the counter in a cabinet or in the opening where the chair is supposed to be. It must be easy to access so frequent filing is easy to do.

Whew! Who knew that clearing clutter from a kitchen desk could be so complicated? Anywhere you have paper, you have complexity. When you set up a system for managing paper you need to access in the kitchen, and you use it, maintaining order on the kitchen desk gets easier.

Remember, keep only those things at the kitchen desk that you regularly use in the kitchen. I call those tiny desk areas “prime real estate”. If you want to maximize the potential of a kitchen desk, you can’t afford to park useless things on those small surfaces. If kept clear and set up properly, they can function as the cockpit for the coordination of most of the activities of a busy family. Is that how your kitchen desk functions? If not, why not? Claim your kitchen desk as a mini-home office, an action area for women at the heart of the home.

Clutter Clearing Challenges in Retirement

“I had planned to clear all kinds of clutter once I retired, but I can’t seem to get it done.” This is an all too common lament of people who retire with intentions to reclaim order and peace in their homes. They are baffled by their inability to take action and achieve their goals. There are several reasons why clutter clearing doesn’t happen.

  1. Lack of schedule structure — Your life while you were working was structured around your work hours. You knew when you were obligated and when you had free time to get things done. Knowing you had limited windows of time to work around the house could have served as motivation to get things done. In retirement, unless you are working part-time, you may not have activities that create a regular schedule for you. With no regular schedule it’s much easier to put off doing tasks, particularly tasks that are difficult, seem overwhelming, and taxing. It’s easier to float along and do more pleasurable activities.
  2. Lack of urgency — Often there is no compelling reason or deadline to provide you with the sense of urgency that can be a catalyst for clutter clearing. Your schedule is open. Your timeline is open. Again, it’s very easy to just drift along putting off clutter clearing.
  3. ADHD — If you have ADHD or think you have it, your ADHD could be part of the problem. People with ADHD procrastinate doing jobs that aren’t interesting, fun, new, aligned with their passions, or in some way bring them pleasure. Clutter clearing is usually complicated and therefore difficult. It can engender feelings of shame and overwhelm, both of which shut down the ADHD brain. If you have a lot of clutter, clearing it is a long-term project which highlights ADHD difficulties with sustaining awareness, attention, effort and interest.

Ok, now you know some reasons why clutter clearing isn’t happening. Following are some options to help you achieve your goal of clearing your clutter once retired:

  1. Structure your time — Mark your calendar with blocks of time for your every day activities. Then add specific times to clear clutter. Make sure that you start with small, doable blocks of time (15 minutes to 60 minutes).
  2. Create urgency — Look for activities that you can schedule that will push you to clear clutter. For example, to get clutter clearing done in your dining room, schedule a special family dinner that requires that you use the dining room. Getting ready for the dinner will motivate you to make the space presentable for your guests. Resist the urge to just move your clutter to another location. 
  3. Create accountability — Get an accountability buddy, someone who is supportive of your efforts to clear clutter. Let your accountability buddy know what you plan to clear and when you plan to do it. Ask that person to check in with you to ask about your progress. It’s easy to blow off your own plans to clear clutter, but much harder to do when you commit to doing it to another person. 
  4. Get support — Ask a helpful, non-judgmental friend or family member to be with you while you clear clutter. Their mere presence can make it much easier to focus on the task at hand and take action. Plus you will transform a dreaded onerous task into a social event.
  5. Get professional help — A coach or professional organizer can help you get your clutter clearing done. Coaching with an organizer coach can help you identify what makes it so hard for you to clear clutter, provide information about how to do clutter clearing on your own, and also offer accountability. A professional organizer will work side by side with you to get the clutter clearing done. Professional organizers can get clutter clearing done four times faster than you are likely to be able to do it on your own.

Clearing clutter is possible when retired when you add structure to your time, set a deadline to create a sense of urgency, have someone to provide accountability, get support and/or get professional help.

Clutter clearing begins with a single step. If you’ve been stuck for some time and are frustrated by your inability to make clutter clearing happen despite using my first four suggestions, it’s time to consider hiring a professional. Schedule a free 30-60 minute phone coaching session with me to explore options for assistance.

The Five-Step Clutter Clearing Process

Clearing clutter is a complex process that can be difficult for even the

Clutter clearing, you too can do it!

most determined and intelligent person. How do you start? Where do you start? How do you keep going? Below are 5 steps to help you get started so you can experience success and be motivated to keep clearing.

1 Remember that doing something is better than doing nothing. What you do may not produce stunning results quickly, but doing any clearing shifts energies in a positive direction. 

2 Set a small goal for yourself. For example, plan to work for ten minutes. Set a timer and go to work. When the timer goes off, stop. Most of us can work for ten minutes. During that time do whatever is easiest to create some new order. Throwing away trash is usually easy. Clearing off a table might be easy. Finding a bag full of things to give away might be easy.

3 Start with the biggest items in the space you are clearing. Check the energy of big things. Ask yourself, “Do I love this?” If you have no special emotional attachment to the item, ask yourself, “Do I use this?” If the answer is “no” or “not in the last year”, consider losing it.

Moving big items allows you to see and feel yourself making progress and will motivate you to keep clearing. 

As soon as you decide to eliminate an item, remove it from the space, preferably by placing it just outside the door. It’s not a good idea to pause in the evaluation process to take the item much further than outside the door, because you risk getting sidetracked doing something else.

Removing the item from the room releases the energy that the item was holding. That released energy is then available to use as you continue making decisions about what to keep and what to release. The bigger the item, the bigger the energy release that is then available to you.

As you make decisions and move things out of the room, your energy will also increase, and making decisions becomes easier. Your brain begins to generate creative new ideas about what you can do in your space.

When you find that removing things from the room is getting difficult because of the quantity of items outside the door, stop sorting. Reward yourself by taking those items to their respective locations. DO NOT stop to reorganize the new location, even if you cannot easily put things away. Just leave items in the areas where they belong and make a mental note that the area needs your attention at a later date. Then, return to your project.

4 Congratulate yourself on your success. That sounds silly, doesn’t it? Some of you are thinking, “So, I did ten minutes of clearing in a house that needs ten weeks of clearing. What’s the big deal?” The big deal is that you made a plan to clear and kept it. You got started. Remember, every bit of clearing helps. And, if you don’t stop and feel the good feelings that come from the accomplishment of the work you’ve done, how are you going to motivate yourself to continue? It’s a head game. Play it!

5 Schedule your next clearing session, preferably sooner rather than later. Repeat the process. All progress makes a difference as long as you aren’t creating more chaos between clearing sessions than the amount you cleared.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? If that’s the case, why do people avoid decluttering? How do their spaces become nightmares right before their eyes? The fact that something sounds simple doesn’t make it easy to do. Clutter clearing involves making so many decisions. You not only need to decide what to keep and what to pitch, but also where to start and what to do with all your things as you work. It can be a great logistical challenge with the potential for distraction everywhere.

When I work with clients, part of my job is to keep them from running away. Even though I am in charge of the process and of making it easier for them, they are still affected by the way the space feels and by the enormity of the decision-making process. Your job is to keep yourself clearing despite the urge to run away.

The Konmari Method: Not a Magic Bullet!

51mf3u-jpal-_sx348_bo1204203200_Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has been the all the rage for the last two years. I’m guessing it caught on because people were fascinated and hungering for information about how to rid themselves of clutter forever. Wouldn’t that be nice! Or, perhaps the idea that tidying up could be magical and not a dreaded boring task was appealing.

Unfortunately, the only way to rid yourself of clutter forever is to have a highly effective, committed staff that follows you everywhere cleaning up and clearing out behind you or to be dead. As we move through life, we create clutter. The only way I know to live somewhat clutter-free is to make daily clutter clearing a priority along with several larger clutter clearing sessions per year.

Not only was I initially very put off by the suggestion that it is possible to clear clutter forever, I also had a problem with Ms. Kondo’s insistence that everything should be cleared out at once. Having worked as a professional organizer who has cleared clutter for almost 20 years, I have learned that the human brain wears out after an hour or two when making decisions once after another. Going through an entire house can take weeks or even months for most people. It is an enormous task!

Clutter clearing is all about making decisions. The idea that people are capable of working hour after hour, day after day to clear clutter not only is an impossibility (unless a team of people are doing the clearing), but it is a recipe for exhaustion and failure.

I also struggled with the sorting method proposed in Ms. Kondo’s book. At one point she suggested that a person’s closet be emptied onto the floor and clothes from other parts of the house be added to the pile. Then the sorting would begin and continue until all the clothes were sorted.

First, piling all the clothes in one place is a recipe for overwhelm. Seeing all the clothes at once would shut down most of my clients’ brains, especially those with ADHD. Also, it really isn’t necessary to empty closets when clearing them out. In fact, it’s much more efficient to leave all clothes in the closet, except for any that are on the floor, and pull out only those that a person no longer wants.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that even a person who is highly focused and motivated would be able to stay engaged in the sorting process until that enormous job was done. When exhaustion sets in, the brain melts down. When the brain is done, people quit clearing clutter. That would leave a big pile of clothes in the middle of the bedroom, a pile that would be much harder to get back to than it was to work on it the first time.

With all that said, I really liked the feng shui feel of the book. The way she looked at possessions was almost referent. Plus, she linked quality of a person’s life to the condition of their environment. Feng shui teaches that what you have in your space affects what happens in your life.

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

I can see all my shirts at once! No MIA shirts!

My favorite part of the book, however, was the section addressing how to fold clothes for maximum visibility. Using her suggestions I have totally transformed my sock and nightgown drawer and my shirt drawer using her methods. I feel proud and happy every time I open one of those drawers. Everything is so neat, organized and visible.

No, you can’t banish clutter forever. There are no magic bullets. But, you can improve the condition of your space by clearing clutter every day.

Clear Clutter: Donating Items Pays Off

Donate quickly to attract more good in your life!

Donate quickly to attract more good in your life!

It seems like donating items you no longer love, need or use would be a simple process. Just drive to the closest charity of your choice and drop off your stuff, right? I wish!

In particular, many people who have a difficult time letting go of things want to find just the right person or place to donate their former treasures. What they don’t realize is that having to find the best place for everything adds a complexity to the process that is time consuming and often ends up being a barrier to donating anything.

For years I have advocated to clients and participants in my educational seminars that they donate items quickly and as easily as possible trusting that their things will end up with just the right person. For example, Goodwill is five minutes from my house. All my donations go to good will.

I have also recommended that people consider donating items without making itemized lists to claim tax deductions. Making that list is another step, is tedious (I’ve never been able to make myself do it!), and because it’s an easily procrastinated task it is another potential barrier to getting things out of your space.

I gave up getting receipts from Goodwill years ago. I view my donations as a form of community service. I also believe that what you put out there will come back to you in some form. For example, I recently rented a car to visit my disabled brother. I need a car bigger than my tiny Honda Fit because Mark’s leg doesn’t bend at the knee. A van would be ideal, but the rental cost is prohibitive. Therefore, I made a reservation for a standard car with the hope that Mark would fit in it. When I picked up the car I explained what I needed and why, and to my surprise  was offered a van for the cost of a standard car.

I believe that by being generous and freely giving away things I no longer love, use or need that I attract generosity in others. The van was my good will coming back to me.

You will not experience the benefits of clutter clearing until your donations are out of your space. Make donating items a quick and easy process to attract more good into your life.

How People With ADHD Can Successfully Clear Clutter

I received the following post from Tom Robinson, the founder of Adventures event_455738537in ADD, a meet up group for people with ADHD in the Richmond, VA area. Tom has ADHD, and like many people with ADHD, getting and staying organized is difficult.

Tom wrote, “I just started on the first step of my goal to get better organized and free of un-needed, (not un-wanted), “stuff” before Christmas. What could I do with two dozen rods and reels that were stacked in a corner and all tangled up with lines, hooks and weights? I gritted my teeth and made a decision to take the bull by the horns and take a positive step towards a less-cluttered life. Viola! In less than an hour I built twelve feet of rod holders to suspend from the ceiling of my fishing shack. Wow! Looks great and no tangles.”

Tom took the following steps.

  1. He set a goal to get better organized and free of un-needed stuff before Christmas.
  2. He set a specific deadline.
  3. He chose to grit his teeth when hit with some initial overwhelm rather than run from the job.
  4. He made a decision to take a positive step, just one step toward his goal.
  5. He made the task enjoyable by coming up with a creative solution for creating order.

Tom made progress toward achieving his goal by focusing on a very specific desire, to get better organized. That desire helped him push through his resistance. Plus, he used an ADHD strength, his creativity, to make the task more enjoyable and ultimately successful. And, surprise, surprise! The task took less than an hour!

People with ADHD can be successful with clutter clearing if they 1) focus on what they want, 2) find some way to make the task pleasurable/fun, and 2) use their strengths of persistence, determination and creativity to keep them moving and on track.

Clear Kid Photo Clutter: Who Are You Sleeping With?

“I recommend that you remove all photos of your children from your

Remove all photos of your children from your bedroom.

Remove all photos of your children from your bedroom.

bedroom.” The woman who had hired me to do a feng shui consultation looked at me with a shocked expression on her face. “Really? Why?” “Well,” I responded, “those photos hold the energy of your children. It’s as though you are sleeping with your children. Do you want to be sleeping with your children? And, how romantic can it be with your husband when your children are looking on while the two of you are having sex?”

Once you have children, an enormous amount of energy naturally shifts to meet the legitimate needs of the children. Tending the needs of the couple can easily slip by the wayside in the busyness of childrearing and making ends meet. Even the bedroom can become all about the children.

Ideally the bedroom of a couple should be treated as a love nest, a place to honor and enjoy your relationship. 

Given that the health of the couple assures the health of the family unit, doesn’t it make sense that you devote one room to being all about the couple? Make sure that you have at least one photo of you and your spouse/partner in the bedroom. Remove all photos of people other than the two of you. Not only will your bedroom feel more peaceful once the crowd has exited the room, but, hopefully you’ll find it easier to focus on your relationship.

In the 18+ years I’ve been of helping people clear clutter and improve their lives and marriages, I’ve found that the couples with the most photos of their children in the bedroom often have no pictures of the two of them in that room! They aren’t even conscious that they’ve left themselves out of the picture.

Like my client, you may be skeptical, but I challenge you to remove all photos from your bedroom except those of you and your spouse/partner.* Make the bedroom all about just the two of you energetically. Then, look for the energy in your marriage/relationship to shift in a positive direction. Eliminating the visible energy of your children will make it easier for you to relax and be more present in your relationship.

*Most people want to know what to do with all the photos that were removed, as if the actual children were asked to leave. I recommend that those photos be displayed in any of the public areas of the home. Public areas are any other room in the house except the bedrooms.

Clear Shoe Clutter from the Bedroom

Your goal in setting up your bedroom is to create a space that is completely

How peaceful is this?

How peaceful is this?

conducive to sleep. The energy of smelly feet can only be distracting. Why is it that I so often find pairs of shoes strewn over bedroom floors?

I’m fairly certain that part of the problem is not having adequate storage for the number of shoes that people own these days.

Also, sometimes shoes just don’t make it to the closet. You may be thinking, “Why put them away? I’m just going to put them on again tomorrow. . .”  or “I’ll put them away later.” Sweaty, smelly feet and

Are you sleeping with smelly feet?

Are you sleeping with smelly feet?

rest just don’t go well together. Ideally it’s best to reduce the number of shoes you own to those that can fit in your closet. Then make a commitment to yourself to get them back there every night.

For one thing, you’ll find your bedroom is more peaceful because there will be fewer items out and visible in the room. You’ll also find that your focus can shift away from the energy chatter of pairs of shoes to more important things like gentle reading, reflecting about your day, conversation with a partner or spouse and/or sex.

Energy chatter. What chatter? Everything is alive with energy. Positive or negative. Everything!  This may sound silly or “woo woo” to you, but stick with me.

What do shoes say? Here are some of the conversations I’ve heard:

  • Those shoes really are too tight, but they are the only ones that really look professional.
  • I really should polish that pair. Look how scuffed they are!
  • The bottoms are really worn on that pair. Is it time to bite the bullet and get another pair?
  • I look like such a dork in those shoes! But, they are so comfortable!
  • Those shoes really stink. I wonder what’s going on with my feet that they stink so badly.

With all those conversations going on, is it any wonder that you don’t get great sleep anymore? Yes, when your eyes are closed you can’t see all those shoes, but you are affected by their negative energy when you are sleeping. That negative presence interferes with peaceful sleep.

 Set your shoes free. Clear out shoes that you no longer love or use at least once a year. Banish the remaining shoes from the bedroom to the closet, and find a storage solution that will work in your closet. Then enjoy sweet dreams and the peace that results from your efforts.  

Bedroom Clutter Clearing: Live Within Your Closet

I was raised with parents who were not accumulators of material things.  I Home office closet_Anever saw clothes hanging from brackets attached to the outside of closets or scads of toiletries strewn across a bathroom counter.  So, in my early days of working as a professional organizer I was really unprepared for the quantities of clothes and other belongings that spilled from closets, drawers and cabinets.

Feng shui teaches that everything has energy and the energy talks to you. 

Well, when things that really belong in the privacy of a closet are hanging outside the closet, they talk to you!  In fact, if there are very many of them on the loose, they scream at you.  A peaceful bedroom can be quickly transformed to a noisy crowd when clothes no longer fit in closets and drawers.  That noise will interfere with getting good sleep which will affect your productivity, and over time, your health.

What do I mean by talk to you?  Things get their energy from their color, the memories associated with them, their materials, textures and design.  When something is out in the open all those components of it are visible and chatting away. 

What to do?  Make a commitment to live within your closets, drawers and cabinets.

Don’t accumulate more than you can comfortably house in the storage containers available to you. You can do that by regularly clearing out items you no longer love or use.

“But my closets are so small,” you say.  Get a wardrobe!  Move to a house with bigger closets!  What is more important — all those clothes, toiletries, gadgets, etc. or a peaceful home where it is really possible to get quality sleep?

A Solution for Organizing Necklaces

I have yet to find the ideal necklace organizing product. In my work I have seen many types of organizers, but none have accomplished what’s needed to keep necklaces organized: visibility, ease of access, and keeping necklaces tangle-free.

My own necklace organizer finally reached the point where I had to do something different to be able to enjoy my necklaces. My mother recently died, and I inherited a number of her brightly colored necklaces, most of which we bought together. They hold her energy, and being able to easily access them became a priority.

IMG_4611

Before

When I added Mom’s necklaces to my existing organizer they became part of a jumble of necklaces, all of which were then difficult to see and access. If you have to fight with other necklaces to get to the one you want, you will feel irritated and most likely avoid using necklaces all together.

What to do? I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought another necklace tree. It was still not ideal for easily getting necklaces on and off of it, but it did have the capacity to store necklaces at two levels. Longer necklaces could be on the top level, and smaller necklaces on the bottom.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

After. The necklaces on the counter were donated to charity.

When I contemplated the volume of necklaces, most of which I actually love and use, I realized I still had too many necklaces for the new organizer. Rather than cram all of them onto the new tree, I decided to divide the necklaces into two groups: colorful beaded necklaces on the new tree; simple silver and gold necklaces on the smaller tree. Removing the silver and gold necklaces reduced the volume on the tall tree, and made it more likely that I’d be able to see and access the remaining necklaces.

I used the sorting process as an opportunity to clear out some necklaces I don’t wear and am not likely to wear again. That too reduced the volume. Any time you are setting up a new organizing system, you have the opportunity to clear clutter. 

My solution is not ideal because it takes more space, but I was able to take a chaotic jumble of inaccessible necklaces and make them accessible and visible. Mission accomplished!

If you have found an effective way to store necklaces, please share it! And, please include photos so we can all benefit from your method.

Clutter Tells the Truth

FullSizeRender

My guess is that the truth here is that this person isn’t into putting things away after using them, that she has a “drop it anywhere” approach to her stuff, and that she and her family don’t eat in the kitchen.

Over the 18 years I’ve been working as a professional organizer I have learned that clutter is information. It tells the truth about aspects of a person’s life.

Some of the things I’ve learned from clutter are:

  • this person has too many balls in the air, and the maintaining a neat, clutter-free and organized home is one of the balls that often gets dropped
  • this person spends all their mental and energy at work, and upon arriving home drops everything and hits the sofa
  • this person doesn’t make time to maintain an organized home
  • this person does not have the habit of putting things away
  • this person hates to cook
  • this person really loves clothes
  • this person has difficulty finishing tasks
  • this person is really into disaster preparedness
  • this person is an artist
  • this person is committed to animal rescue
  • this person loves the beach
  • this person is a big reader
  • this person has great difficulty making decisions
  • this person has no idea how to clear clutter
  • this person wants to be organized (has lots of organizing books)
  • this person loves color and beauty
  • this person hates doing laundry
  • this person is very sentimental
  • this person gets overwhelmed easily
  • this person may have ADHD
  • this person wants to scrapbook, but can’t get started

I could go on and on. The content of your clutter and the state of your clutter tell your story. That’s part of why I love my work. I look beyond the messiness and look at the clutter with curiosity. I ask myself, “What is this clutter telling me about this person?” I really enjoy deciphering the clutter to learn more about a person’s current reality and quite possibly their life story.

The clutter tells me much more than most people actually verbalize. That’s why I tell prospective clients not to clean up when I am going to be working with them. I tell them, “If you clean everything up I will have great difficulty determining the causes of the clutter accumulation.” When I can help clients identify the habits and behaviors that have led to their clutter problems I can then help them plan new behaviors that can prevent a meltdown of the order we establish.

What truths does your clutter tell?

Your Personal Closet Is a Reflection of You!

Your personal closet is the most important closet in the house. Well, from a DSCN1100feng shui perspective it is! Your closet is an outward extension of you. Your clothes hold your energy. Take a look at your closet. How are you doing right now? Are you calm, spacious and organized? Or, are you a chaotic jumble of stuff?

How can I be so certain of the significance of your closet?

For thirteen years I’ve helped people clear and organize their closets. I have helped clients make decisions about what to keep and what to toss using the “Love It, Use It or Lose It Method” of clutter clearing. Clothing items that were loved or used have the best energy and were kept. Those that were not loved or used at least once a year were tossed. By going through that process over and over again with clients, it was very apparent that clothing held important associations with the different aspects of their lives, some of which were current and some that were outdated.

During the clearing process clients had the chance to “get current” about who they’d become by identifying those clothes they still loved, that still fit, that made them look attractive, that were comfortable, and that were useful given their current activities. In the process they let go of volumes of clothing that was too small, suited to a former occupation only, that felt uncomfortable, that fit poorly, that was of poor quality, that held  negative associations, and that was permanently stained.

When we finished our clearing sessions each client had more clarity about their current self, who they were the day of our clearing session–their current values, lifestyle, and preferences in terms of comfort, color and styles. Clients went from overwhelmed and scattered to clear and empowered within the space of two hours!

Go into your closet and set your intention to create a space that is an accurate reflection of who you are today. With each clothing item ask yourself, “Does this item accurately reflect who I am today? Does it reflect who I want to be today?” If the answer to either question is no, let it go! Get clear. Get current. And, get empowered!

Reduce Grief By Creating a Memorabilia Altar

I’ve noticed that some people who have experienced the death of someoneAlter very important keep large quantities of items associated with that person. Everything seems to have great significance. Clients have stated that when they get rid of things associated with their spouse, parent, child, etc., they feel like they are getting rid of that person. Little do they know that by holding onto quantities of things that remind them of that person they are actually anchoring their grief about the loss.

Everything a person own holds their energy if when you look at it you think of that person. An item might have had a very positive energy when the person was alive. For example, a musical instrument they enjoyed playing would likely hold positive energy. However, when the person dies the energy of their items is tinged with sadness.  The musical instrument that held positive energy could evoke sadness because the musician can no longer play the item. Holding onto it anchors sadness.

To facilitate moving through normal grief over the loss of a loved one, I recommend that survivors keep only those items that they like the best, those things that evoke happy feelings. Less is best.

One way to honor a loved one is to create an altar with an arrangement of a few precious items that belonged to the person. You don’t need to hold onto quantities of items associated with a beloved mother to hold her memory in place. Choose a few special items that remind you of the person and arrange them on a surface that you will see in passing as you move through you space. Those items might include a photograph, a special curio, a medal or award they received, anything of theirs that really matters to you or really mattered to them.

My mother died recently. After she died I created an altar to hold a few special things associated with her. It sits atop a small chest of drawers that was in our living room when I was growing up and has been in Mom’s home ever since. I chose to keep that chest for its association with Mom and my life while I was living at home with Mom and Dad.

I gave Mom the little purple silk flower arrangement. She loved flowers and she loved it. The wax ball smells of lilac, her favorite flower and fragrance. I added a few other items for aesthetics — a small painting by my dad, a live plant and a paperweight given to me by a special client who often checked in with me about how Mom was doing during the last few years.

The quantity of items on the altar associated with Mom was less important than the feelings evoked by the items. Just three items (the chest, flower arrangement, and wax ball) hold Mom’s energy and memory in place. When I walk by this little altar my heart remembers Mom and what she loved, and it smiles.

Do the things you have kept that once belonged to a loved one make your heart smile? Are they out and visible where you can see and enjoy the memories? If not, you have inadvertently created pockets of pain that make moving through your grief a much more difficult and slow process. Keep and honor the best. Let go of the rest! 

Clear Clutter to Manage Grief

My mother is dying. She has been in the process of dying for more than threeIMG_0634 weeks. Her death is inevitable. When Mom will leave is uncertain. As you might imagine, I am swimming through a sea of feelings. My relationship with my mother has been precious. She was my best friend, a constant source of love and support. Her passing will leave a huge hole in my life.

How am I coping? I’m clearing clutter. When my emotions run high, I clear clutter. I am able to care for Mom and make sure she is comfortable and getting good care. However, I am utterly powerless about when she will actually die. There is no distinct deadline to this period of great pain and sadness. That leaves me feeling out of control and powerless.

When I feel out of control, I clear clutter. Clearing clutter is a process I can control. It is concrete and I get tangible results immediately. I am also aware that as I clear clutter, I am shifting energies from negative to positive. In so doing, I increase the probability that I will be able to better manage my feelings of grief and make good decisions as this sad journey comes to its ultimate conclusion.

What am I clearing? I am clearing things from Mom’s room that are no longer of use to her in her current state. Feng shui teaches that the best way to create change is to move things and to live with only those things that are in alignment with who you are in the present moment. Most things are no longer relevant for Mom.

Yes, I have had a twinge of guilt about whether it’s amoral to clear out things before Mom has actually died. I got over that feeling by reminding myself that Mom’s passing could actually be easier for her if she’s not anchored in her current state by the negative energies of physical belongings that no longer serve her.

I am also selfishly clearing because I know if I do the clearing in small increments now her death will be easier to handle emotionally. I won’t be left with an enormous painful clutter clearing project when I’m grieving.

I’ve seen what happens to the homes of adult children when they have cleared out parents’ homes post-death in the midst of their grief. Things that belonged to their loved one hold the energy of the loved one and the energy of the loss. They avoid making decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of because it hurts to do so.

Consequently they take home enormous quantities of things that may or may not be significant to them. They then cram those things into their attics, garages, utility rooms, basements and storage spaces instead of going through them and integrating items of true significance into their homes. When that happens the pain of the loss gets anchored in their space for years instead of the joy that is possible when precious items are integrated with their belongings. They can’t move through their grief because the pain associated with the stuff keeps them stuck.

I’m deliberately making decisions with each car load I take from Mom’s room. I am keeping the items that are most precious to me, saving some items for other family members, and donating everything else to charity except items that are trash.

Lest you be worried that I have completely stripped Mom’s room, do not worry! Her furniture, art work, key photos, stuffed animals, and a few decorative items remain to make the space feel homey and inviting.

Has this clearing helped? Yes. I feel calmer about Mom’s passing. When I visit her room feels calm and comfortable. I feel more in control of my emotions and less frantic. I also feel lighter because I have lightened the load of responsibility for what must be done following her death. And, I have found places in my home for the items I chose to keep. Warm touches of Mom speak to me as I move through my home, reminding me of her and our very special relationship.

Letting Go By Clutter Clearing Can Help You


reflections of an anonymous attendee of one of Debbie’s clutter clearing seminars

“It definitely lifts my spirits.

When I was going through some of my things, I was reminiscing over the emotional connections. But, I had these things forever, and they just took up too much space and energy. It was nice to get rid of them because I felt like I was letting go of both good and bad memories/experiences. It made me feel more free and liberated. I felt like I shed off a part of my past and was enabled to live in the present. I know I didn’t have to hold onto an item to regain that feeling, and was able to get rid of them.

I also hold onto a lot of papers and project ideas. I realized that I had had those for years too and was unlikely to start those projects because I already am doing the projects that I’m most passionate about. To get rid of those old projects and papers helped me to re-focus my energy on what’s more important to me.

It also just feels nice to live in a clean, uncluttered environment.”

Ways to Approach Basement Clutter Clearing

So, you’ve decided you really want to clear out your basement. How will youscan0004 approach that enormous task? After all, wanting to clear a basement and actually getting it done are two very different things!

Following are some possible approaches to make it happen.

  • Light a match . . . just kidding! That option might be appealing, but is not really a good idea! I don’t think insurance covers that approach to basement clutter clearing!
  • Commit to 15 minutes of clearing one weekend day for as many weekends as it takes to finish the job. This method is comparable to the way you might approach eating an elephant. If you knew you had to eat an elephant, how would you get the job done? One bite at a time. You may find you want to work longer and that’s great, but make 15 minutes the minimum time you will work. Even though the size of the job is still overwhelming, with this approach you at least make the time commitment small enough per clearing session  to be doable. The trick to this method is to find ways to keep committing to those small chunks of time week after week. Consider rewarding yourself after a successful clearing session (remember, just 15 minutes!) with an experience you’d really enjoy. For example, you might make a trip to Starbucks for a cup of coffee and allow time to enjoy reading the paper.
  • Block off a weekend and tackle the job head on with or without the help of family member and/or friends. This approach is like diving into the deep end of the pool. It’s scary, but you just do it! It can work for people who have the ability to make themselves do things however abhorrent because they want the end result — an organized, functional basement. For this approach to work, you have to have the ability to keep your head down and not let yourself be distracted by the negative energies of the basement contents or the enormity of the task. You also have to be able to regroup from time to time when you feel overwhelmed or mentally fatigued from all the decision-making or exhausted physically from your efforts to move things around and out of the space.
  • Ask a supportive family member or friend to help you clear your basement in exchange for helping them in some way. Spend at least 2 hours working together with your friend or family member assisting. Ask them to move things out of the space as you identify them for donation or trash. Schedule more sessions for this type of help until the job is done. Remember, the person assisting you is just that, an assistant. Make sure you stay in charge of the process. The presence of a supportive other makes it easier to stay focused on the task (if you don’t get distracted by chit chat and other activities), and makes this overwhelming task seem less daunting by becoming a social event instead of an onerous task.
  • Hire a professional organizer and work with him/her in blocks of at least 2 hours until the project is done. Professional organizers know how to approach large projects like clearing a basement. Some can even bring in a team to clear the basement in one or two sessions. Organizers can work side by side with you, helping you make decisions about what to keep, what to toss or donate, and how to reorganize the space once it’s cleared. When you work with a professional organizer you’re likely to be able to get the job done two to four times faster than you could do it alone on a good day. Plus, the end result is likely to be organized in a way that with some effort on your part is easier to keep organized over time.
  • Wait for a hurricane to flood your basement and force you to excavate its contents. Yes, I’m trying to add humor here, but clients have shared their stories of this type of clearing following major hurricanes like Fran, Gaston and Isabelle. I don’t recommend it because it’s pretty traumatic and a really nasty, dirty process.

How will you get your basement cleared? It might be helpful to know that the basement holds the energy of your unconscious. The reward for clearing it could be letting go of some old unconscious beliefs and memories that are barriers to making positive progress in your life. Clear out your basement and you’re likely to feel lighter and more grounded in the present!

Garage Clutter Clearing: The Challenge of Negative Energies

If you have a garage you probably have had this type of experience. You or
DSCN1058your spouse set your intention that this weekend you’re going to tackle the garage. The weekend comes. After your breakfast, coffee and the newspaper you set out for the garage, fully prepared to take on the beast. You open the door to the garage, take a look at the chaos, clutter, dirt and enormous quantities of items to be sorted and organized and you turn on your heel to return to the comfort of your family room and a good book or the TV remote.

Is it any wonder that garages rank right up there with attics, basements, and paper as clutter clearing challenges that are most often avoided? Why is that?

With few exceptions most garages present with a whole host of negative energy challenges. In other words, garages tend to be places that for one reason or another don’t “feel good.” Spaces that don’t feel good energetically push you away. Negative energy repulses. Positive energy attracts.

Why all the negative energy?

  • Garages are typically storage areas of an enormous quantity of items. The numbers of things to be organized, stored and kept in order is overwhelming.
  • Garages are also typically very busy places. Items of all sizes from large yard equipment like lawn mowers and weed eaters to tiny nuts, screws and bolts are stored there.
  • Many of the items in a garage are visible. If they are visible, their energy talks to you all the time. There is no peace in the typical garage with all those various conversations!
  • Garages usually hold various kinds of toxic substances like fertilizers, pesticides, and paints.
  • Garages are the storage area for items that hold “weapon” energy, tools that can do harm. This includes handsaws, drills, axes, chainsaws, hammers and crowbars.
  • Garages are often unfinished spaces with exposed framing. Even though it is common to leave garages unfinished, being unfinished makes them unattractive and feel like spaces waiting for finishing touches to make them more attractive and appealing.
  • Garages are dirty places. Even with the most deliberate attention to keep a garage swept clean, dust, dirt and grime easily accumulate because of their enormous doors and the types of items stored there.
  • Garages are dumping grounds. They are convenient places to drop things on your way into the house. Also, items get dumped in the garage because they is usually room to store things “temporarily” when shifting things around inside your house. Often “temporary” becomes permanent. Plus, when people can’t decide what to do with items, or if they run out of room for things in the house, their mantra often is, “Stick it in the garage.” Unfortunately, once dropped in the garage those items are out of sight, out of mind and become part of the garage chaos.

It is no wonder that most people tend to avoid clearing, cleaning and organizing the garage! It’s negative energy alone can send you for the sofa and the remote control!

Are you now feeling sufficiently overwhelmed? Don’t worry. That’s very normal. However, the garage monster can be tackled. Before that can happen you must be conscious of the sources of negative energy that can shut you down. If you head for the garage unprepared for its common challenges, like the power of its negative energies, you are likely to find yourself on the sofa time and time again.

Once you have an awareness of the sources of negative energy, you can use that knowledge to inform your retreating self that it’s not simply laziness or the inability to do the job that keeps you from clearing out your garage. It is the negative energy of the space as a whole that is dousing your enthusiasm to create order in your garage. With that knowledge and your new awareness of the power of negative energies to shut down clutter clearing and organizing attempts, you can then take a deep breath and seek ways to manage those energies so you can reclaim your garage.

China Cabinet: A Haven for Treasures or Trash?

Have you ever noticed who you’ve got living in your corner cupboard or chinaliving-room-670237__340 (1) cabinet?

In my work as a feng shui practitioner who works with people to clear clutter I help people identify and evaluate the energies throughout their homes and offices to make those energies conscious and ensure that they were positive and supportive. Positive and supportive energies attract more positive experiences and good into your life.

I once worked with a man who had been divorced for many years. His feelings about his ex-wife could best be described as hostile. When we reached the dining room he was startled to realize that his wedding china, which was prominently displayed both inside and outside of his corner cupboard, held the energy of his marriage and of his ex-wife. Needless to say, we discussed the significance of those pieces and removed them from their prominent location.

Items that are stored in china cabinets, buffets, and corner cupboards in dining rooms are often loaded with associations with family members and past events. It’s where we store our “good stuff.”

Take a look at your dining room storage cabinet. I’ll bet you find china that belonged to your mother or grandmother. Or, perhaps you have crystal you got when you got married. Or, there may be candle holders from a dear friend. Rarely does a dining room storage cabinet hold things devoid of associations.

When an item brings back the memory of a family member, it holds the energy of that person. It’s as if that person has taken up residence in your space. If the item holds the energy of a significant event, the event will replay in your mind when you see the item. If you are not in good relationship with the person whose energy is held in place by an object, or if your memory of a significant event is not positive, those objects are holding negative energies associated with the person or event.

Check out each item in your china cabinet, buffet or corner cupboard. Pay attention to the thoughts that immediately pop into your mind. If an item has a strong positive association you could hear, “Oh, I love that! It’s the gravy boat we used every year for Christmas,” or “That’s Nana’s salt and pepper shaker. She was so special.”

When an item holds a strong negative association or has no significant association at all you might hear, “That ugly thing was so important to Mom. It belonged to Aunt Thelma. And, she was not a nice woman!” or “I don’t know where that came from. It isn’t nearly as nice as some of my other pieces.”

Also pay attention to your energy. Items with good energy are likely to lift your spirits and elicit a warm feeling inside. They often bring a smile to your face. Items that hold memories of painful times or stressed relationships are likely cause your energy to drop and can register as a groan, a frown, or as an uneasy feeling.

Make your dining room storage cabinets a repository of treasures, not trash. Save items with the best associations, the best energy. Donate the rest!

Clear Clutter: Have Your Cleaning Products Had Babies?

It’s always interesting to see how many kinds of silver polish I find when I’m cleaning-932936_640helping clients clear clutter from their utility rooms. I’m not exactly sure how it happens, but I often find duplicates of silver polish, glass cleaners, carpet stain removal products, floor waxes, and furniture polish in particular.

I wonder if this happens because clients hear about a new, improved product and just have to try it. Or, if they just don’t remember that they already have a product. What’s also interesting is that when they discover that they have multiples of a product, they keep all of them. “They are still useful,” they say. Yes, but how long have you had them? Why haven’t they been used before? Are you REALLY likely to use them? Get real and get clear!

I recommend that you figure out which products work best for you, and either let go of the rest or systematically use up the extras. A good way use up a product is to put the bottle you want to use up first in front of the other duplicates. It’s also always a good idea to keep smaller containers on lower shelves so they will be visible and easy to access. Even though you use many of those products only occasionally, storing them on an upper shelf guarantees that they will get lost in the bottle jungle. Make them visible and use them up! Also, make a deal with yourself that you will only buy new cleansers when you are SURE that you need them.

Things that don’t get used have a static, dead energy. Plus, those extras are taking up prime real estate that could be better used in some other way. Get real with yourself about those that are really worth keeping! Lighten your cleanser load!

12 Tips to Ensure Peace in your Family Room

A cluttered room, regardless of its furnishings and paint color, is a noisy,

A family room can be peaceful!

A family room can be peaceful!

stressful environment whose negative energy will have a negative effect on the energy of its occupants. Conflicts are more likely to occur in a cluttered space.

When you think about your family room or den, do you sigh with pleasure or groan with displeasure, irritation or overwhelm? Family rooms are gathering spots, high use areas for relaxing at the end of busy days and busy weeks. As such, they tend to attract all kinds of things that have very little to do with relaxing, like computers and other forms of technology, CDs, DVDs, newspapers, magazines, catalogues, toys, art supplies, paper. . . the list goes on! If your family room is cluttered, you are not alone! Family rooms seem to take on a life of their own, especially when more than one person is sharing that space.

Guidelines for a Peaceful Family Room

  1. Remember that everything is alive with energy, and that the energies of items talk to you all the time. The more items you have in the space, the noisier and less peaceful the space will be.
  2. Keep small items like CDs, DVDs, art supplies and games contained and out of sight to quiet their noisy energies.
  3. Limit the number of knick knacks you have out and visible to just a few precious items.
  4. Have a balance between large objects (furniture) and small objects (knick knacks, books, magazines, etc.) in the room, erring on the side of more large objects and fewer small objects.
  5. Keep paper out of the family room. If you bring paper into the room to read or work on, be sure to remove it when you leave. Paper usually has the energy of activity and work, and is not conducive to the function of peace and relaxation of a family room.
  6. Limit the number of framed photos to one to three per surface so each photo can be enjoyed. Large quantities of framed photos on a surface have the energy of a crowd, more annoying than pleasurable. Plus, because the energy of a crowd feels overwhelming, it’s less likely that all the photos will be seen.
  7. Contain your magazines and catalogues to one or two baskets or bins rather than out on tables. If a basket fills up, consider it a sign that it’s time review the contents of the basket and let some items go to recycling or the trash.
  8. Keep side tables clear by using small boxes with lids on side tables to contain small items that are frequently used in the family room, like nail clippers, nail files, pens, note pads, etc. When those items are used, return them immediately to the box.
  9. If you have more than one remote, devote one attractive container to remotes and return all remotes to it at the end of each day.
  10. Teach children that whatever they bring into the room must leave it when they leave, like book bags, school supplies, books, snack wrappers, plates, shoes, iPods, tablets, laptops, etc.
  11. Return the room to order each time you leave it and teach your family members to do the same. Return magazines to their basket, remove newspapers, return dishes to the kitchen, and put CDs and DVDs that were used back in place.
  12. Keep the room clean. Dust and dirt are negative energy. Negative energies can induce negative behaviors, irritation and conflict.

It takes just minutes per day to maintain peace in a family room. And, a peaceful family room can also be trashed and transformed into a chaotic mess in a matter of minutes of thoughtless action. Choose for peace!